It should be noted that U.S. lenders have issued more than 5 million forgivable loans through the federal government’s coronavirus aid initiative for small businesses, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The Small Business Administration (SBA) in August, started to accept applications to have the loans forgiven, and it has begun approving them as well.
The best part of the Paycheck Protection Program is that 100% of the loan can be forgiven if you meet certain criteria. To help you out, we will be sharing our comprehensive guidance on setting yourself up for full loan forgiveness. You should note that you will need to fill out a PPP loan forgiveness application form to get your loan forgiven.
The Conditions of the Paycheck Protection Program
Let’s first review the terms of the PPP before we go any further. The loan amount is based on your average monthly payroll cost for 2019. You can receive 2.5 times that amount to help cover 8 weeks of payroll. The funds from the PPP can be used for the following purposes:
- Payroll – salary, wage, vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave, health benefits
- Mortgage interest – as long as the mortgage was signed before February 15, 2020
- Rent – as long as the lease agreement was in effect before February 15, 2020
- Utilities – as long as service began before February 15, 2020
All expenses that fall under those categories are eligible for forgiveness. The following conditions will also apply:
1. 24 Weeks of Coverage
Eligible expenses are those that are incurred over 24 weeks, starting from the day the first payment was made by your lender. This isn’t necessarily the date on which you signed your loan agreement. You don’t need to adjust your payroll schedule. All payroll that your employees incur over the 24 weeks is eligible, even if the actual payout date falls outside the 24 weeks.
December 31, 2020 is the final cutoff date for eligible expenses. This means that PPP loans funded after July 16will not be able to take full advantage of the 24-week forgiveness period. Companies that received their loan prior to June 5are still able to use an 8-week period.
Still unsure about whether you should go with the 8-week or 24-week covered period?
The main factors to consider are whether you’re a self-employed individual collecting the owner compensation benefit and whether you have enough eligible expenses to spend the loan on.
2. The 60/40 Rule
At least 60% of your loan must be used for payroll costs. Payments to independent contractors cannot be included in the payroll costs. Your forgivable amount will scale in proportion to the amount you spend on payroll, up to the total of the loan amount.
3. Staffing Requirements
You must maintain the number of employees on your payroll. Here is the calculation you can use to determine if you’ve met this requirement:
First, determine the average number of full-time equivalent employees you had for:
- The 8-week period following your initial loan disbursement (A)
- February 15, 2019 to June 30, 2019 (B1)
- And January 1, 2020 to February 29, 2020 (B2)
Take A and divide that by B1. Do the same with B2. Take the largest number you obtain. If you’re a seasonal employer, you must divide by B1.
- If you get a number equal to larger than 1, you successfully maintained your headcount and met this requirement.
- If you get a number smaller than 1, you did not maintain your headcount, and your forgivable expenses will be reduced proportionately.
Properly hiring back employees may be complicated, but our guide simplifies it for you.
Exemptions on Rehiring Employees
Employees employed as of February 15, 2020, and were laid off or put on furlough may not wish to be rehired on to payroll. If the employee rejects your re-employment offer, you may be allowed to exclude this employee when calculating forgiveness. To qualify for this exemption:
- You must have made a written offer to rehire in good faith
- You must have offered to rehire for the same salary/wage and number of hours as before they were laid off
- You must have documentation of the employee’s rejection of the offer
If any of these conditions apply to an employee, you can also qualify for an exemption:
- They were fired for cause
- They voluntarily resigned
- They voluntarily requested and received a reduction of their hours
You may also be required to demonstrate you were unable to hire similarly qualified employees for unfulfilled positions or document that you could not return to normal operating levels due to safety requirements. Note that employees who reject offers for re-employment may no longer be eligible for continued unemployment benefits.
4. Pay Requirements
You must maintain at least 75% of the total salary. This requirement will be individually assessed for every employee that didn’t receive more than $100,000 in annualized pay in 2019. If the employee’s pay over the 24 weeks is less than 75% of the pay received during the most recent quarter in which they were employed, the eligible amount for forgiveness will be reduced by the difference between their current pay and 75% of the original pay.
5. Rehiring Grace Period
You can rehire any staff that was laid off or put on furlough and reinstate any pay decreased by more than 25% to meet the requirements for forgiveness. If those changes were made due to COVID-19 between February 15 and April 26, you have until December 31 to do so.
Reductions in Your Forgiveness Amount
Spending your PPP funds on the right things is straightforward enough. But things get more complicated when you don’t keep your headcount and employee pay levels the same.
· Headcount Reduction
Let’s say that you have three full-time employees, and they each made $3000 per month, meaning your PPP loan amount was $22,500 (3000 x 3 x 2.5). You had to lay them off in February due to COVID-19. If you only hire back two out of the three employees, your workforce is 67% (two thirds) of your original headcount.
Over the 24 weeks of the PPP period, you spend $36,000 on your employees, more than the PPP amount. You claim the full $22,500 of your loan for forgiveness. If we assume you don’t qualify for any rehiring exemptions when calculating your forgivable amount because your workforce is smaller, your forgivable amount will be multiplied by 0.67. You would be able to have $15,075 forgiven.
· Pay Reduction
Let’s say that you have three full-time employees, and they each made $3000 per month, meaning your PPP loan amount was $22,500 (3000 x 3 x 2.5). You had to lay them off in February due to COVID-19. You hire back all three of your employees, but you only pay them $2000 a month.
Over the 24 weeks of the PPP period, you spend $36,000 on your employees, more than your PPP loan amount. You claim the full $22,5000 of your loan for forgiveness. When it comes to calculating your forgivable amount, we look at each employee’s individual compensation. The 75% minimum salary is $2,250, so you’re paying each person $250 less each month. The difference is scaled up to 24 weeks (250 x 6). So, $1,500 would be deducted from the forgivable amount. Repeating that for each employee would result in a total of $18,000 forgiven.
Forgiveness for Self-Employed Individuals
You are entitled to use the PPP loan to replace lost compensation due to the impacts of COVID-19. You are eligible to claim 2.5 months’ worth of your 2019 net profit to replace pay. If you didn’t have any other payroll expenses factoring into your PPP loan amount, this means that your entire PPP loan could be forgiven for the 24-week period.
If you are using an 8-week forgiveness period, you can claim 8 weeks’ worth of your 2019 net profit as owner compensation replacement. The remaining PPP funds will need to be spent on utilities, rent, and mortgage interest expenses to be forgiven.
If you have mortgage interest, rent, or utility expenses, you must have claimed or be entitled to claim a deduction for those expenses on your 2019 Form 1040 Schedule C to claim them for forgiveness.
For example, if you worked in an office space in 2019 and didn’t have a home office, you could not have claimed a deduction on your home mortgage interest. Even if you are currently working at home now, you cannot claim home mortgage interest payments for forgiveness.
If you are self-employed but received a PPP loan through multiple businesses, you are capped at $20,833 in owner compensation across all the businesses you’ve received a PPP loan through. For example, suppose you’ve received a PPP loan through two businesses and you’ve received $15,000 in owner compensation replacement from your sole proprietorship. In that case, you’ll only be eligible for $5,833 of owner payroll from your other business.
After the 24 Weeks: Applying for Loan Forgiveness
Your lender will process Applications for loan forgiveness. You will need to fill out a PPP loan forgiveness application form and submit that to your lender. If you had a PPP loan before the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act being signed, you could choose to use the original 8-week period instead of the 24 weeks. After you submit your application for forgiveness, your lender is required by law to provide you with a response within 60 days.
Recordkeeping and Required Documents for Forgiveness
These are the required documents you will need to collect to provide with your PPP loan forgiveness application. Your lender may have additional requirements.
- Documents verifying the number of full-time equivalent employees on payroll and their pay rates for the periods used to verify meeting the staffing and pay requirements:
- Payroll reports from your payroll provider
- Payroll tax filings (Form 941)
- Income, payroll, and unemployment insurance filings from your state
- Documents verifying any retirement and health insurance contributions
- Documents verifying that your eligible interest, rent, and utility payments were active in February 2020
- Documents verifying your eligible interest, rent, and utility payments (canceled checks, payment receipts, account statements).
Good recordkeeping and bookkeeping will be critical for getting your loan forgiven. You’ll need to keep track of eligible expenses and their accompanying documentation over the 24 weeks. Your lender will likely require these documents in digital format, so take the time to scan any paper documents and keep backups of your digital records.
Furthermore, your business will need to have complete financial statements at the end of your fiscal year. Your lender and the SBA have the right to request and audit your business’s financial documents and records.
What Happens If I’m Not Approved for Forgiveness?
Your lender may allow you to provide additional documentation so they can reevaluate your request. Otherwise, your outstanding balance will continue to accrue interest at 1% for the remainder of the 5 years. There is no prepayment penalty. You can pay off the outstanding balance at any time and with no additional fees.
Under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) created by the CARES Act, loans may be forgiven if borrowers use the proceeds to maintain their payrolls and pay other specified expenses. Congress recently changed the rules regarding loan forgiveness. The Treasury Department and Small Business Administration are responsible for updating the application form and loan forgiveness instructions.
PPP borrowers must apply for loan forgiveness with the lender that processed the loan. This guide is designed to help borrowers understand how their loan forgiveness amount will be calculated. We hope you will be more informed about the PPP loan forgiveness process and what you need to do to qualify for forgiveness after going through this guide.